I’ve heard many complaints about the lack of professionalism and integrity of businesses. It appears to be a growing plague among small companies. More and more, people are caring less about the relationships they form with partners, employees and clients and focusing only on how much money they can bring in. Everybody is in it for themselves. The result is that our faith and trust in other people is diminishing. We often think: Are they telling the truth about the product or service or do they just want my money?
Companies are quick to quote and request a payment but then fail to deliver. You can fight them but sometimes they don’t budge and you have to accept that you’ve lost your money. It seems like businesses are trying to grab all the clients they can without paying attention to effective management. There is more than enough work for all of us. It is better for them to focus on the few top clients who can be satisfied rather than prioritising them over smaller customers and misleading the latter. I understand that people sometimes take on more than they can handle and become desperate for new business and funds but that is no excuse to lie to people and make false promises. If companies were to establish themselves on a set of core values and stick to their principles, even if it meant saying no to some new business, at least rejected customers could move on and be served by other companies with resources better suited to their needs.
Follow ups are often tedious and frustrating. I’ve become skeptical when I call a company and they say “we’ll call you back”. I’m often shocked when they actually do phone back. Queries and complaints are often left unanswered. People later complain to their immediate circles and that company loses potential business.
The scenario isn’t much better when we look at the way companies treat each other. In some industries, such as construction, it is crucial for companies providing different services to work together (for example: plumbers, electricians, builders, etc). Verbal and written agreements are broken when a party does not uphold their end of the deal. Someone does not pay or the work is not delivered as promised or both. People leave the situation feeling unhappy and deceived, refusing to work together again. In some cases the industry as a whole is given a bad name.
When hiring new staff, companies are often very misleading about what they have to offer. You respond to a sales job ad only to find out at the interview that the position is commission based. Some employers promise perks and bonuses at the beginning of employment that employees never see after years of work. Remuneration figures are shown excluding tax deductions. The reason for this baffles me. People want to know what they will be taking out at the end of the month and not what they will earn for themselves and SARS. Businesses also fail in treating their employees with respect. Bosses use fear and negative reinforcement to encourage people to work. Employees with no faith in their work environment search for other jobs where they might be paid more and treated better.
Everybody plays the game for themselves. The prize is money. Screw ethics and integrity. People aren’t realizing that they are holding themselves back. If a company is efficient and staff members are friendly, honest and professional clients always return. The lack of these qualities is part of the reason why small businesses in South Africa remain small. Owning a business is about forming good relationships with the people you deal with. If nobody likes you, unless you have a monopoly over the industry or you’re the absolute best at what you do, people won’t want to do business with you again.